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It’s time we started pushing our own agenda rather than everybody else’s

It’s time we started pushing our own agenda rather than everybody else’s

Sometimes you really do have to ask yourself if you really understand what’s going on in some people’s minds. And just how much the people in charge of some fairly major institutions really understand the impact of their decisions.

Firstly DVLA, that government outpost at the far end of the M4 whose desirability as a posting is apparently only exceeded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. They have just awarded a £100m contract for a new Vehicle Excise Duty system to Capita. That is not an issue in itself, of course, but Capita re one of those who use a lot on non-EU resources to deliver their projects to keep their costs down. All well and good, but this is our money they’re spending, and even my shaky grasp of macro-economics says that it must be better to spend it within the UK if we are to grow the UK economy.

This also flies in the face of a recent survey by SOCITM, looking at the long term costs of outsourced projects, that shows that “when comparing the costs for any service, most elements will be more expensive if outsourced.” Which is something some of us uninformed IT professionals have been saying for years; framing a deal that delivers a genuine saving over a long term is very difficult indeed. Quality invariably suffers, and the savings are rarely delivered.

But hey, it looks good on the balance sheet, and who cares about what happens in ten years, it’s this year’s budget we have to worry about.

The other undesirable monolithic institution making worrying noises is the Scottish Parliament. Their beloved leader Me Salmond, (aka “Wee ‘Eck”, although my own epithet would be rather more punchy) recently came up with the slightly deranged idea that he wants to allow unlimited immigration into Scotland to overcome the lack of skilled workers.

Luckily the immediate response from the real Government down in London was fairly unequivocal. They didn’t quite say “Don’t be such a blathering fool” but they got about as close as you can get in politician-speak. Although one possible outcome should Salmond succeed in his plan would be border posts between Scotland and England. Now there’s an idea.

But I digress. The key point is that neither of the above examples takes any notice at all of the long-term health of the country. DVLA presumably tendered for a solution to the problem of marrying tax discs and insurance policies – on the face of it a trivial IT exercise, but I don’t know the detail and it may well be vastly more complicated to do. But that doesn’t mean that whoever came up with the solution is the best supplier to implement it. HMG keeps saying that it wants 25% of procurement to go to UK SMEs, and the DVLA seems not to be interested in that approach.

As for Salmond, we can allow for the fact that he’s a politician and hence only interested in next week, but if his country hasn’t got enough skilled workers, how about training the ones you have rather than shutting them off from any opportunities for all time by importing a new workforce over their heads? I suspect he could find a lot of people willing to work for £24,000 a year hiding in the highlands if he looked.

It really is time we started pushing our own agenda rather than everybody else’s.

About the author: Alan Watts

Alan has worked in IT for most of the last 35 years, and first went freelance in 1996. He has been a PCG member from its start and has been spreading the message that freelancing is a professional career choice for many years. Alan also runs Malvolio’s Blog, a personal but highly informative take on the life of the modern freelance.

Alan Watts, Principal Consultant, LPW Computer Services

© 2011 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited

Image: Day of the Donut 4: “We DEMAND it!” by jakerome

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